No retreat in the face of Paris horror say Richard and Judy

Monday 12 January 2015

The West’s response to Wednesday morning’s Paris terror attack is well under way.

Hugely enhanced security in public places; more armed police and troops on the streets and on standby for rapid response and a redoubling of the race to identify terrorist plots and arrest their architects before they can do their evil worst.

But to quote a saying from a very different conflict seven decades ago: “The bomber will always get through.”

However deep the defence, there is never an absolute guarantee that every attack can be thwarted. In fact quite the reverse. It is fair to say we have reasonable certainty that sooner rather than later something very like the Paris atrocity will be re-enacted on our own streets.

As has been said already, the cold-blooded murder of French journalists, cartoonists and police three days ago, and hostage-taking yesterday, was very different in its intent from previous outrages by Islamic terrorists.

It was not aimed at altering our coalition strategy to defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria. This was a calculated, focused attempt to inflame the domestic situation inside France, to work on the growing tensions over radical Islam and suspicions of “the enemy within”.

In that sense it was a classic fascist tactic that Hitler’s street army of Brownshirts would have instantly recognised.

Their terror attacks on German and Austrian Jews during the infamous Kristallnacht was a naked attempt to foment disorder and it worked.

So the French, or when it’s our turn the British, must not dance to the terrorists’ tune. We must not turn on our Muslim communities – our fellow citizens – and for one second allow ourselves to think that they are even fractionally less horrified by the slaughter in Paris than non-Muslims are.

Equally we must not retreat. Upgrade security, certainly. But otherwise carry on as before. I am deeply unsettled that ceremonial guards were recently withdrawn from their traditional positions outside Buckingham Palace and moved back inside the gates.

While I totally understand the reason – the shooting dead of a Canadian soldier on similar duties in Ottawa – surely the response should have been to double, treble, even quadruple the guards (and allow them to load live ammunition in their rifles’ magazines, usually kept empty).

We have to respond to these abhorrent attacks. But not to retreat. That’s a defeat.

Read more in Richard and Judy's Express column here.
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